Pennsylvania’s 2017-18 migratory game bird seasons have been selected.

Annual migratory game bird seasons are selected by states from frameworks established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Game Commission selections were made after reviewing last year’s season results, population survey data, and input gathered from hunters and the public.

Here are some of the highlights provided by the PAGC in a press release:

Waterfowl season highlights

Hunters should carefully consult the maps and descriptions at www.pgc.pa.gov to determine the specific regulations applicable to the area they plan to hunt.

Game Commission biologist Jeremy Stempka said that the goose season restrictions are being enacted in an attempt to stabilize or increase the resident goose population on and around Pymatuning Wildlife Management Area.

For ducks, the daily bag limit is increasing from 1 to 2 for black ducks and decreasing from 2 to 1 for pintails, in accordance with established USFWS harvest strategies for these species.

Similar to past years, there will be a statewide youth waterfowl hunting day in mid-September (Sept. 16) and a second youth day varying by duck zone.

In the Lake Erie Zone, the timing of the second youth day (Oct. 21) will be similar to previous years. Also new this year, due to a recent change in federal frameworks youth waterfowl days are open to licensed junior hunters 12-16 years old. Previously, 15 was the upper age limit. A federal duck stamp is required for 16-year-olds to participate.

Youngsters participating in the youth days must be accompanied by an adult, who may assist the youth in calling, duck identification and other aspects of the hunt. During those hunts, youth can harvest ducks, Canada geese, mergansers, coots and gallinules. Licensed adults can harvest Canada geese if there is a general Canada goose season open in the area being hunted.

On youth waterfowl days occurring when there is a general Canada goose season open, youth and adults have the same daily limit for Canada geese in the area being hunted. On youth waterfowl days occurring when there is not a general Canada goose season open, accompanying adults may not harvest Canada geese, and the bag limit for youth hunters is the same as in the regular season for the area being hunted. Bag limits for ducks, mergansers, coots and gallinules also are consistent with the limits for the regular season.

The controlled hunting areas at the Game Commission’s Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lebanon and Lancaster counties, as well as all of State Game Lands 46, will remain closed to September goose hunting to address the decline in the resident Canada goose flock.

To hunt waterfowl, in addition to a regular Pennsylvania hunting license, persons 16 and older must have a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, commonly referred to as a “Duck Stamp.” It must be signed in ink across its face and possessed while hunting.

A temporary, electronic Federal Duck Stamp (eDuck) may be purchased online through the Pennsylvania Automated License System, and is valid for 45 days from date of purchase to hunt migratory waterfowl within Pennsylvania and other states that have approved its validity. The eDuck stamp may be printed out or downloaded onto a mobile device, and must be carried while hunting waterfowl.

Regardless of age, all hunters must have a Pennsylvania Migratory Game Bird License to hunt waterfowl and other migratory birds, including doves, woodcock, coots, gallinules, rails and snipe.

In addition to posting the migratory game bird seasons on its website, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has posted a synopsis of federal regulations that govern migratory game bird and waterfowl seasons to assist hunters in finding answers to questions.

To review the information, go to www.pgc.pa.gov.

Additional information can be found on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website, www.fws.gov/hunting/whatres.html, where a complete version of the federal regulations (50 CFR Part 20) is posted. When state law differs from the federal law, hunters must comply with the more restrictive law.

Migratory game bird hunters are encouraged to report banded ducks, geese, doves and woodcock they harvest online at www.reportband.gov.

The toll-free telephone number for band reporting (1-800-327-BAND) is being phased out due to cost and data-quality concerns, and may not be in operation for the 2017-18 hunting season.

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